Marna Wilber

marna-wilber-board-member-conscious-capitalism-ct-chapter-headshot

Marna Wilber

Board Member

Why do we need a new way of doing business?

Companies need to find new ways of conducting business for a variety of reasons. They are continuously being asked to deliver improved results with fewer resources; employees are asked to do more and often become overly stressed.

But how do the best companies keep employees healthy, engaged, interested and loyal? By developing a mission-driven organization, companies can evangelize their employees to share in that mission creating a sense of belonging and community. This is critical because companies need to attract and retain the best talent for top performance and by having a clear purpose, employee retention and engagement improve, and future community-focused leaders emerge.

Give us an idea of how have you helped make the world a better place?

Over my lifetime, I have been involved with many non-profit organizations. I attribute this passion to my mother who was always very mindful of what our family could do to assist or welcome others.

Currently I serve on three boards including Conscious Capitalism Connecticut. What I have realized over the years is that it is not enough to be a donor or a sponsor. Donors and sponsors are great but tend to have simple transactional relationships with philanthropic organizations. To be a champion of the cause and donate one’s time, talent, treasure and spread the word on the mission, is when everybody wins. I strive to be involved by contributing my time, funds and talent communicating and marketing organizations missions while building their brand.

Additionally, my intention is to be a true champion for the organizations I am associated with and to continue to encourage companies to find their purpose for an employee, business and community win-win-win.

What does Conscious capitalism mean to you?

Conscious Capitalism is the opportunity for a for-profit business to associate itself with a challenge or inequity in society and then champion for its elimination or improvement resulting in a better world.

There are many for-profit businesses that have giving strategies or a non-profit association where they donate funds or gifts-in-kind. But many of these relationships lack the full commitment of time, talent, treasure and evangelize the message. When companies can engage on all four of these aspects, our world will be a better place.


Gavin Watson

gavin-watson-chair-conscious-capitalism-ct-chapter-headshot

Gavin Watson

Chair

Why do we need a new way of doing business? 

Because the current management and business practices that most companies are practicing today are at least 100years old. In that time two things have happened. First the world moves much more quickly now and secondly we have learned a lot about the best environments for human engagement and productivity, we now know how to create an engaging and quickly responding workplace. Several companies have pioneered and achieved this. It results in a better environment for people and a more prosperous company so why would we not do it?

Give us an idea of how have you helped make the world a better place? 

I read a lot of different books and learned about practices other more progressive companies.  I also read a lot in the field of positive psychology and other recent scientific studies. It became obvious to me that we should be managing and structuring our companies not on current “best business practices” which are not science based, but we should be structuring our companies and managing our work places based on the current best research.  Using the information and the examples of other companies I tried out several new approaches and they work very well. We created an environment rich in autonomy and information flow where people can flourish and the company performance is much better. 

What does Conscious capitalism mean to you? 

It means being conscious, self-aware, a certain stage of human development and maturity.  Many companies don’t stop to think about anything past the strategic plan, coming within budget, and making money.  They are acting like a single cell organism that is not self-conscious. A single cell organism that is consuming all of the food in the petri dish as fast as possible.

A conscious company is self-aware.  A conscious company knows why it exists and knows that it exists for something much more than making money.  A conscious company has a purpose and regards making money as just something it must do so that it can continue to exist and continue to pursue it’s purpose.  A conscious company also knows that it has a responsibility to all of its stakeholders. First of all the employees for without them nothing else matters, and without them the purpose cannot be pursued.  Then the other stakeholders; the suppliers, customers, the community, the environment and finally the shareholders who get what is left over of the money. In a conscious company there will be plenty of financial reward because the conscious company will outperform it’s non conscious competition.  The shareholders true reward however is the knowledge of the difference their assets are making in the world. Because the shareholders of a conscious company are of course themselves conscious.


Introversion and Leadership

Gavin Watson

I am reading “Quiet” by Susan Cain.  It was recommended to me by Allison Holzer one of the co-board members of our Conscious Capitalism group in Connecticut.  Quiet is about “The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking.”

There are many notable observations that Cain makes and I am only about 1/3 of the way through it.

One of the particular things that I found makes a lot of sense to me is the difference between extroverted leaders and introverted leaders and what works best and when.

Cain makes the observation that extroverted leadership works best when the team needs motivation and direction.  The extrovert excels at being confident that they know the one best way and exactly where the group needs to go. They can get a group of disengaged people energized to follow them by sheer dint of personality and self-confidence. They will happily use extrinsic motivators such as threats, or rewards and bonuses to get people to do what they want. If you have a group of non-engaged individuals who are lacking in motivation, and mission or purpose you may need an extroverted leader to get them going, to drive success, to lead the charge!


Susan Cain Quotes

 

Introverts, in contrast, may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas ….

There’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas

Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to.


Introverted leaders, on the other hand, tend to lean back and encourage others to lead from wherever they are.  Introverted leaders recognize that they always have a lot more to learn and discover. They take more time to carefully consider options.  They know that they may not have the best ideas and they are excited to consider a variety of perspectives. Introverted leaders are more likely to welcome a difference of opinion.  They will be more likely to try several options at the same time rather than confidently committing everything to just one best way. They will be more likely to see a need to pivot and make corrections along the way.  Introverted leadership works best in an environment full of meaning and purpose, where people are engaged and eager to contribute in creative ways. The introverted leader also naturally creates this meaningful and intrinsically motivating environment.  The introverted leader creates a safe environment for a variety of opinions and psychological safety to explore new ideas and make mistakes and discover more opportunities for success. 

In the old world (50 years ago) that changed slowly and predictably, where people left themselves at home and came to work to do what they were told and follow the procedures and were just happy to have a job, extroverted leadership was a successful strategy.

Increasingly we live in a complex world where things are not always what they seem to be, and they change quickly. We need the creativity that comes out of working in an environment that is interested in exploring new and contrary ideas.

The introverted style of leadership is increasingly a more successful strategy.  


Gavin Watson

As of January 2020, Gavin Watson began serving as Board Chair of Conscious Capitalism, Connecticut Chapter. View Gavin’s LinkedIn profile here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gavin-watson-225420163/

 


Heather Desjardins

heather-desjardins-vice-chair-conscious-capitalism-ct-chapter-headshot

Heather Desjardins

Vice Chair

Why do we need a new way of doing business?

We are living in a world that is demanding a depth and purpose to how we earn, how we spend and how we interact with our capital. Through the expansion of technology and knowledge, we understand the effects our choices have had on our species and our earth. It is imperative that we shift our relationship with all forms of capital for our very survival.   

How have you helped make the world a better place?

I am the Chief Development Officer of Conscious Capital Wealth Management, empowering individuals to live their dreams and align their investments with their values through investment vehicles and technology aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).  I am one the founding members of the executive team of Future Capital and Co-Founder of the Live Whole™ Institute encouraging others to remember their reason for being here and encourage them to live a life of passion and purpose.     

What does conscious capitalism mean to you?

Conscious capitalism is an operating system vibrating at a high consciousness level where all stakeholders including the earth are engaged through love, inclusion, honesty and integrity.


Kathy Saint

Kathy Saint

Board Member

Why do we need a new way of doing business?

Wow. No short answer to this question but, let’s start with this… Growth is not necessarily good and it is most certainly not sustainable. Measuring the health of global economies by whether we are experiencing growth, ignores the fact that the planet and the Human Race cannot survive if this paradigm is maintained.

How have you helped make the world a better place?

Our family business is 142 years old and is currently being managed by the 4th generation of Schwerdtle’s. All four generations of our family done their best to treat our co-workers fairly and be respectful of their quality of life, both at work and outside of work. We have a strong tradition of giving back to our local community by volunteering in support of education, the environment, and voters rights. Without having a specific word or phrase to describe what we believe in and how we behave, our values have always been aligned to managing for long term, sustainable goals and we have always recognized crony capitalism and its history of exploitation of people and the environment as a bad thing.

What does Conscious Capitalism mean to you?

The Conscious Capitalism organization – supports companies in their efforts to manage for long-term, sustainable goals. It offers Schwerdtle Inc. opportunities to connect with and learn from other business leaders who see clearly that what has worked in the past has lead us to the cliff’s edge.

Together, by systematizing the tools utilized by conscious capitalists, we can learn best practices and at the same time, educate other business leaders on the alternative to the currently rigged system. We need a new way of measuring success because the old way is destroying our planet, turning productive wealth generated by healthy, well-run businesses into private wealth.

And, what is wrong with private wealth, you might ask. If that wealth was gained by buying businesses and then stripping them of their true value in order to increase their short-term bottom line… they are destroying the multiplier effect that a business managed for long-term stability creates. This investment class reduces costs to increase profit by means we are all too familiar with, including off-shoring (which many times involves the use of child labor and slave labor, unsafe work environments, stripping of natural resources, loss of our intellectual property, increases in our carbon footprint), firing the highest-paid (and arguably most knowledgeable employees), eliminating the R&D that built the company in the first place, etc. There is only one winner here and it is not the company or its employees or its customers. The price for this quick gain is devastating our country and our planet. Our stock market has responded to the changing rules of the game, which for most of our history rewarded ‘buy and hold’ and ‘good to great.

Today, too many businesses manage for quarterly returns to shareholders with no care for the long-term future of the company, its employees, or the environment. Activists like Robert Reich bemoan the ever-expanding distance between CEO pay and that of the average employee, without getting to the real issue. The CEOs of the largest corporations in the world are not ignorant of the fact that the rules changed and there are no golden handcuffs anymore. They are charged with making money for their shareholders and the real customers are secondary. They understand that they need to get their payoff early and with guarantees because running their company by the crony capitalism rules means that they, or the company, or both may not be around for the long term. And, Reich is also wrong that unions are a solution to this wage gap. The true solution is to allow our CEOs to run their companies to serve the best interests of their customers and their employees and not for short-term gain to shareholders. Workers will be paid more, products will not be offshored to the lowest wage countries, our IP will remain at home and drive growth and innovation and CEOs will be rewarded for stability and customer satisfaction.

If enough companies, large and small, commit to Conscious Capitalism and reject its evil twin Crony Capitalism, we can have a strong middle class and we can have a healthy planet and a more predictable economy and I think we can even aspire to such lofty goals as world peace. Capitalism is only effective as an economic model if the system that the model operates within rewards decision-making for the greater good for the present AND future generations.

And, last but not least – Conscious Capitalism is good business. companies that consistently apply the principles of conscious capitalism outperform their peers in the S&P index by 14:1 so; why not inject more consciousness into your business?


Glen McDermott

glen-mcdermott-executive-director-conscious-capitalism-ct-chapter-headshot

Glen McDermott

Executive Director

Why do we need a new way of doing business?

The earlier versions of capitalism had the effect of creating a huge middle class and a sense of shared prosperity. These benefits were best described by the slogan “the rising tide lifts all boats”.

The sense of fairness and equity had a profound positive effect on the fabric of our communities. 

But recently the systems of wealth creation and distribution have been stacked to benefit those at the top and our wealth gap is now at it widest.

Our ecology and climate is also responding to years of abuse. So our business system needs to shift and deliver a sense of shared prosperity, lead with purpose and respond to the needs of the community our environment, supporting equality and diversity while still driving innovation and profitability. 

Give us an idea of how have you helped make the world a better place?

I have had many roles with Fortune 500 companies driving their marketing programs and have become highly skilled at the art and science of guiding consumer behaviour. I have also been passionate about health and wellness and in 2008 I founded Red Rock Branding in response to the acute needs around health and wellness in the USA. This has allowed me to blend my interests in public health and marketing and we have built healthy communities and driven business for social good for brands like Yale, Columbia and Tulane Universities and many other local brands and non profits.

What does Conscious capitalism mean to you?

Of the 4 tenets, the Higher Purpose stands out for me. I believe the market place has a responsibility to address societal challenges and must become part of the solution. There are many companies already active and reaping the rewards. We provide a gathering place, a platform for them and salute their success.


Judi Otton

judi-otton-treasurer-conscious-capitalism-ct-chapter-headshot

Judi Otton

Treasurer

Why do we need a new way of doing business?

The current model isn’t working.  We’re destroying both our planet and our middle class.  It’s gratifying to see some companies doing good for their employees, their community and the environment, and thriving financially as well.  The more we recognize their good works, celebrate them, and share best practices, the bigger difference we can all make!

Give us an idea of how you have helped make the world a better place?

I’m always been interested in creating work environments that honored our human spirit.  As a technology executive in my earlier career, I instilled good project management practices, among other things, in my teams, and avoided those ‘death march’ projects you may have heard of.  Do it right the first time and you don’t have to do it over.  With the last company I owned, a technology consulting and staffing firm, I noticed many women were not asking for salaries commiserate with their experience.  I let them know when the job payed more and got them that money.  Now as a fractional CFO, I love working with companies with a bigger mission, in addition to their financial success.  Yes, I understand it’s important to make money, and I help them do that, which lets my clients work their magic and do their part to make the world a little bit of a better place.

What does Conscious Capitalism mean to you?

I love the blend of consciousness and capitalism.  It’s not one or the other, it’s both.  It’s companies that are thriving financially AND doing what they can to make the world a better place.  Whether it’s designing environmentally sound buildings, finding kind and low conflict ways through divorces, committing to take great care of their employees, families and communities, or using technology to allow their employees to do higher value, more gratifying work.  There are so many ways my clients enrich their communities, and if I can do a bit to support their good work, I feel that I’ve made a difference.


Larry Bingaman

larry-bingaman-board-member-conscious-capitalism-ct-chapter-headshot

Larry Bingaman

Chair Emeritus

Why do we need a new way of doing business?

There is a serious income disparity in our country that will have dire consequences if not addressed. It is simply not sustainable to have an economy where such a large portion of the population is left behind. Our country’s GDP may be on the increase, and the Greater New Haven region may be recognized as a bright spot in the state’s economy, but that prosperity means little if it does not benefit our entire community. 

Conscious Capitalism is the promise of both economic and social success. By reorienting business to be conscious and do good, we can lead successful companies while standing together in support of the social, environmental and financial well-being of all people. For example, conscious, inclusive business has the power to bring economic prosperity to families in struggling communities, giving them a path out of poverty and into success as our future customers or even owners of their own companies. And, conscious, inclusive business can bring opportunity to people, providing them with access to jobs and education as well as promote a sustainable relationship with the environment and improve public health. Conscious, inclusive business can do all of these things, and it has been repeatedly shown that customers and employees respond positively to this commitment to a higher purpose, resulting in significant benefits to the bottom line. Conscious Capitalism benefits our businesses just as much as it benefits our society.

Give us an idea of how you have helped make the world a better place?

Since taking the helm at the Regional Water Authority (RWA), I have worked to reorient the business into a force for positive change. In addition to our commitment to providing a high-quality, reliable and affordable water supply to some 430,000 people, we now offer the services of our laboratory to test the water quality of utilities around the country, helping to bring potable tap water to more people. We have also increased our environmental protection efforts. Recently we hired our first-ever Invasive Species Management Technician, who works with RWA employees and environmental research organizations to develop and execute strategies for eliminating the harmful presence of invasive species in our state.

I also believe that commitment to one’s community is a vital part of business and of life. To that end, I volunteer my time with a number of community organizations. In addition to founding Connecticut’s chapter of Conscious Capitalism, I am a founding partner for New Haven’s Social Venture Partners. As a firm believer in the value of education, I have worked closely with Gateway Community College and Southern Connecticut State University. These two important community partners worked closely with the RWA to develop a first-of-its-kind Public Utility Management Degree program, which is training the next generation of utility workers. Most recently, I was proud to be named the 2019 recipient of the School for Ethical Education’s John Winthrop Wright Ethics in Action Award and be given the opportunity to speak before a group of young people about the importance of ethics in our personal and professional lives.

What does Conscious Capitalism mean to you?

At a time when corporate scandals have triggered a broad discussion on the role of business in society, I believe the Conscious Capitalism philosophy couldn’t be more essential and relevant. 

We need more businesses to help solve the major challenges we face around the world. I believe purpose-driven companies are ideally placed to contribute to positive social, environmental and financial impacts because of their commitment to a higher purpose beyond simply maximizing profit.

For that reason, it has been my personal mission to create positive change in our region and to start the Conscious Capitalism conversation among other state business and community leaders as a way to influence business for the better. I want to grow awareness of conscious business practices to help them become the norm rather than the exception.